Hay Fever Linked To Increases in Some Cancers, Reduction in Other Cancers

hay fever increases some cancer risk and lowers others

Photo by Marco Raaphorst

By Case Adams, Naturopath

Researchers from German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg have determined in a large European study that people with hay fever diagnoses have an increased risk of certain cancers.

The researchers followed 138,723 hay fever patients (also called allergic rhinitis) using three medical databases from Sweden and cross-referenced cancer incidence using the Swedish Cancer Registry.

The research found that hay fever patients had a 2.63 times increased incidence in nasal cancer than the rest of the population. Hay fever sufferers also had a 46% increased incidence of testicular cancer and a 42% higher incidence of endocrine cancer. They also had a 31% higher incidence of kidney cancers, an 18% higher incidence of prostate cancer and an 11% increased incidence of breast cancers.

Hay fever reduces the risk of some other cancers

At the same time, cancer incidence was related with a lower risk of esophageal cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer.

And another recent study from the University of Toronto of 345 hay fever cases and 1,285 countrols found that hay fever was associated with a 42% reduced risk of pancreatic cancer. And a 2013 study from New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center found a similar conclusion: A 21% decreased risk of pancreatic cancer among 3,567 cancer cases and 9,145 control subjects.

Another recent study – from the University of Quebec – found that lung cancer was decreased by 63% in hay fever sufferers. This study analyzed 1,169 lung cancer cases and 1,486 non-cancer persons.

Another 2013 study found that hay fever was associated with a slightly lower – by 10% – risk of colon cancer by hay fever sufferers, in a 26-year American Cancer Society study of 1,023,191 participants.

As to whether hay fever influences breast cancer, the Swedish study conflicts with a 2013 study of 3,101 cancer cases with 3,471 controls from the University of Ontario. This study found that breast cancer incidence was reduced by 14% among hay fever sufferers.

Why some cancers are reduced and others are increased

These studies certainly bring up the reason why. Certainly hay fever involves the immune system as do cancers. The question is why hay fever increases some cancer risk and reduces others.

A study by researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and its hospital of patients with head and neck cancer and patients with hay fever found that the explanation of increased risk of some cancers and decreased risk of others may lie with the type of T-cell cytokines produced by those with hay fever/allergic rhinitis.

The researchers found that while certain cancers rely upon a suppression of T-cells and cytokines such as IL-1beta, IL-17 and others, which suppress head and neck cancer in particular, but apparently not others.

Another element – which may help explain at least lung cancer reductions, relates to an increase in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF has been used in cancer therapy.

As to the dramatically increased incidence of nasal cancers, corticosteroid may provide an explanation. Corticosteroids significantly alter cytokines among nasal regions. A study of 20 patients from the Allergy and Cancer Center at the Otorhinolaryngology Hospital of Yat-sen University found that corticosteroids (fluticasone propionate) dramatically reduced IL-17A cytokines within the patients.

Because of the effects of corticosteroids on the immune system in general, it is unknown whether this contributes to the increased risk of testicular cancers, endocrine and kidney cancers.

Learn how to reverse hay fever and other allergies.


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Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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